It’s hard to believe that we are already well into week eleven! Thursday Night Football provided us with some ups and downs in our fantasy football lineups, but let’s take a turn toward Sunday. We all have pressing start-or-sit questions for every position, and I am here to help. Every week, I take a look at the players on the periphery of starting and help give you information to let you make your decision. Let’s dive into the week eleven start or sit!
Jimmy Garoppolo versus Arizona
Handsome James and the 49ers passed another vibe check last week, taking down the Los Angeles Chargers by a final score of 22-16. While Garoppolo, unfortunately, did not finish inside the top ten at quarterback, he once again topped fifteen points, finishing with 15.9, marking the fifth-straight game where Garoppolo has had acceptable performances. Unfortunately, this broke his streak of two-touchdown games, but he did rush for a touchdown, so in four-point per passing touchdown leagues, it’s kind of like getting 1.5 touchdowns. Does that work? No? Okay. Handsome James once again continues to provide nice floor games, and he does it thanks to weapons like Christian McCaffrey and Brandon Aiyuk stepping up in the passing game. Failing that, George Kittle and Deebo Samuel are pretty nice fallback options. Garoppolo had 15.9 points in a game where Elijah Mitchell and Christian McCaffrey were the focus, as they combined for 40 opportunities.
This week, the King of Vibes gets the Arizona Cardinals in Mexico City. The 49ers are training at elevation this week, as they are practicing in Colorado Springs to get used to the thinner air in Mexico City. While the 49ers practice at elevation, their opponent this week, the Arizona Cardinals, should probably figure out how they can practice elevating their game against opposing quarterbacks. Prior to John Wolford puking all over the field last week, they yielded over 70 combined points to Andy Dalton, Kirk Cousins, and Geno Smith in three consecutive weeks. They’re not a matchup to worry about, and the hyperathletic 49ers should be running all over the less-than-stellar Cardinals’ defense this week. Go ahead and start Jimmy Garoppolo.
Derek Carr at Denver
Speaking of playing at elevation, Derek Carr travels to Denver this week. The Broncos take opposing quarterbacks and just wipe them off of the map. Ryan Tannehill managed 19.4 points last week thanks to a long Nick Westbrook-Ikhine touchdown, but he also marked the ninth-straight game in which the quarterback opposing the Broncos failed to notch at least 20 fantasy points. Their previous high came against Geno Smith in week one and their third-worst game? Derek Carr’s 11.52 fantasy points back in week four. Carr has already shown that he doesn’t have what it takes to go toe-to-toe with the Broncos, and he did it in a game where Davante Adams had 9 catches and 101 yards, and had his highest fantasy output in a game without touchdowns this season. Derek Carr this season, as the kids say, is swagless. He plays a proficient quarterback, protecting the football (two picks after week one) and scoring touchdowns (multiple touchdowns in six-of-nine games this season). Unfortunately, given his play style, he needs to go for 300 passing yards and multiple touchdowns to finish as a top-ten option on the week. And he’s not doing that this week, so I would sit Derek Carr.
Russell Wilson versus Las Vegas
Russell Wilson is probably the hardest guy to rank this week. On one hand, he’s been truly terrible. I’m talking about Dangerwich commercials levels of terrible. Wilson has just one game over 18 fantasy points this season, and… what’s that? It was against the Las Vegas Raiders? The Raiders stink out loud and you need no more evidence that Wilson scored 27.48 fantasy points against them in their first matchup, and he did it between two single-digit fantasy point days. In fact, the worst day the Raiders gave up to a quarterback this year was Trevor Lawrence’s 16.7 in week nine. Outside of that, every QB notched at least 17 points against them. All but three quarterbacks have had their best or second-best day of the season against the Raiders, including Russell Wilson. Go ahead and start Russell Wilson this week.
Devin Singletary versus Cleveland
Last week, when the Buffalo Bills were all hot and bothered about Josh Allen’s elbow, we saw something we hadn’t yet seen this year: Devin Singletary’s carries convert into touchdowns. In fact, we saw three of his eight rushing attempts inside the eight all season last week. It makes a lot of sense, as prior to last week, Josh Allen accounted for all of their touchdowns except a James Cook touchdown run. Well, things don’t seem to have gotten much better in Buffalo vis-a-vis Allen’s elbow, which means that we are likely to see a heavy dose of Singletary again this week.
This week, he also gets the second-best possible matchup (more on that in a second) with the Cleveland Browns. The Browns are yielding an astonishing 30.4 PPR points to game to running backs, including three running backs getting over 14 PPR points against them last week. The Browns are a doormat to opposing RBs, and because of that and the likely overreliance on Singletary this week, I am going to start Devin Singletary.
Antonio Gibson at Houston
The rumors of Antonio Gibson’s death have been greatly exaggerated. The erstwhile hottest commodity in fantasy football was left on the side of the road after Ron Rivera had him return some kicks in practice. I think that’s why everybody didn’t like him? It didn’t make much sense. Anyway, his presumptive replacement, Brian Robinson, is averaging 3.2 yards per touch this season. That is the lowest of the 38 running backs with at least 90 touches this year. Robinson has been dreadful, and Gibson has quietly been more efficient than Joe Mixon on a yards-per-touch basis. This is likely why Gibson has quietly clawed his value back, and posted four top-24 games in his last five weeks, with the fifth game falling just short (RB28). Gibson is the back to start in Washington.
Things get even better for Gibson this week as he takes on the best possible matchup in the NFL. The Houston Texans beefed up their secondary and forgot to worry about their front seven, and opposing running backs are gashing them this season because of it. They allow the most fantasy points to running backs and have allowed eight running back touchdowns in their four games since their bye, and 14 total in their nine games this year. They’re dreadful, and you can start Antonio Gibson this week because of it.
Both Jets Running Backs versus New England
Whether you’re here for Michael Carter or here for James Robinson, my answer is the same, sit them both. We’ve already seen this song-and-dance this year, as Carter and Robinson combined in week eight for 78 yards on 20 opportunities (3.9 yards per opportunity). Granted, that was Robinson’s first game with the Jets, and he was probably just getting used to things. It was much better the following week, where they combined for 28 opportunities for 139 yards (6.95 yards per opportunity). Both scored a touchdown to salvage their fantasy days. The problem? Well, they take on the team that held them to half as many yards per opportunity as they otherwise had, the New England Patriots. As of today, the New England Patriots allowed the second-fewest PPR points to running backs on the season, with just one player topping 15 PPR points against them (Khalil Herbert). If you’re in a bind, I would start Michael Carter in a PPR league, but ideally, you leave both by the wayside this week.
George Pickens versus Cincinnati
George Pickens has been as-advertised this season, notching four days of fourteen or more PPR points in his last six games, with his two that failed to reach that mark coming against the Buccaneers and the Eagles. While Tampa Bay was egregious, I have a firm “ignore everything against the Eagles” stance, so I will just toss that one aside. That means that George Pickens has been d*ng good for fantasy football. Yet, he’s 36% unrostered. What are we doing, here? Get him on your fantasy team! He’s been WR26 or better in four of his last six contests. You want to get that onto your roster, but what about starting him in what looks to be a stout matchup this week?
On paper, the Cincinnati Bengals give up the seventh-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers. In actuality, a lot of this comes from their early season dominance against the position. Since they lost Mike Hilton, Tre Flowers, and Chidobe Awuzie, things have been a bit wobblier for the Bengals’ secondary. In the last three weeks, they are a positive matchup against receivers, allowing the fourteenth-most fantasy points per game. Terrace Marshall, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Amari Cooper, and even Damiere Byrd have all posted double-digit days against them in their last three games. I’m going to start George Pickens in my 3WR leagues, and he’s in strong consideration in 2WR leagues with a flex spot.
Darnell Mooney at Atlanta
The Atlanta Falcons are dreadful against opposing wide receivers. They give up the most fantasy points in the league to the position, and in recent weeks have made us wonder if Laviska Shenault (14.9 PPR points), Joshua Palmer (18.6 PPR points) and Terrace Marshall (12.7 PPR points are good). I don’t know if any of them are good, yet, but I can tell you that Darnell Mooney is better than all of them, and he gets to take them on this week.
As the saying goes, a rising tide lifts all boats, and Justin Fields’ rising tide is definitely lifting Darnell Mooney. After floating around on the waiver wire to start the year, Darnell Mooney is starting to come in from the cold thanks to Justin Fields’ sudden emergence as the best player in fantasy football. Darnell Mooney has been a WR3 or better in four of his last seven games and has at least 9.7 PPR points in three straight. He’s been an eminently useful option at the position, and he has a great matchup this week. The Bears are rolling, so I, too, am rolling out Darnell Mooney. You should start Darnell Mooney this week.
Chris Olave versus L.A. Rams
The New Orleans Saints announced earlier this week that Andy Dalton would continue on as their QB1, and they attested that Jameis Winston is unlikely to be healthy enough to make it into the game. So, that means more Chris Olave with Andy Dalton this week. And to be honest with you, even though it was rough last week (3 catches for 40 yards), I don’t know how you can do anything but start Chris Olave this week. This has more to do with the Rams than Chris Olave, and I know you probably wouldn’t sit Olave anyway, but this is more to talk about how the Rams are no longer a matchup to fear. Jalen Ramsey has been chewed up by top wide receivers recently, with Mike Evans and DeAndre Hopkins combining for 17 receptions for 149 yards in the last two games, though Ramsey had 2 pass breakups.
Overall, however, the Rams have been abysmal against receivers. Three different Cardinals and three different Buccaneers have notched at least 9 PPR points against them since their bye. The 49ers also had Brandon Aiyuk notch 20.1 points against them. That’s seven guys who had usable days against the Rams in the last three days. It seems as though their defense fell apart in front of our eyes. You no longer have to fear the Rams.
Hayden Hurst at Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh has given up three good games to tight ends this season, with two of them coming via the tight end scoring a touchdown (week ten Juwan Johnson, and week three David Njoku). The third game was Dallas Goedert and the Buzzsaw Eagles going 6/6 for 64 yards. Outside of that, they held streamable guys like Tyler Conklin, Cade Otton, Mike Gesicki… and Hayden Hurst… to single-digit fantasy points. Hurst had 8 targets in that game, and 7 the following week. He’s topped five targets just twice since then, and once in the last month.
In his last two games, Hurst had 4 catches for 42 yards, and 5 catches for 35 yards, and he’s caught 100% of his targets. The Bengals use him as a low-ceiling tight end, and that’s precisely what he is. Hurst hasn’t scored a touchdown since October 9, and he will need one to break through this week. If you need a high-floor play, then go ahead and start Hayden Hurst. But, if you need a guy who will blow up, then sit Hayden Hurst. The matchup doesn’t flesh for him having a blowup game a la David Njoku in week three.
Tyler Higbee at New Orleans (sit)
Tyler “Hate Crime” Higbee hasn’t been doing too well lately, He blew up last week, going 8/8 for 73 yards against the Arizona Cardinals, but every tight end blows up against the Arizona Cardinals. In the three games prior to that, he had just 9 total targets, 3 total catches, and 22 total yards. You straight-up couldn’t play him in those games, and it was mostly because the Rams weren’t trying. You could probably start Tyler Higbee this week and hope that he gets a ton of targets again without Cooper Kupp, but I strongly worry about what kind of upside this offense will provide if they trot out there with Ben Skowronek, Cam Akers, and John Wolford on multiple downs.
The Saints also have one of the best defenses against tight ends this season, thanks to Demario Davis. They’ve given up one touchdown to a tight end this year (Isaiah Likely on Monday Night Football), and are yet to give up 40 yards to a tight end yet. If you want to play Tyler Higbee as a volume play, then go for it. But, I want to see what a Cooper Kupp-less Rams offense looks like before I trot him out there. If I can help it, I am going to sit Tyler Higbee.